Twenty-five students from the Peace and Conflict Studies / Environmental Studies course “Climate Disruption, Conflict, and Peacemaking” braved cold temperatures to tour the route of the Mariner East 2 pipeline (ME2) that runs near Swarthmore College.
The ME2 will carry compressed propane, ethane, and butane from fracking operations in the Marcellus shale fields of western Pennsylvania to the port of Marcus Hook where these byproducts of natural gas production will be shipped mostly to Europe for the production of plastics.
The ME2 pipeline carries highly flammable liquefied gases under pressure through populated suburban neighborhoods, often only feet from homes, schools, residential facilities, detention facilities, and businesses. The pipeline has generated significant and growing local opposition and has raised questions about risk and regulatory processes. The gases are odorless, invisible, and heavier than air, raising concerns about the possibility of evacuation in the event of a leak.
Our tour took us to Marcus Hook and its refineries, an elementary school near a valve station, and Hershey’s Mill Village, a large retirement community in the potential blast zone of the pipeline. We met with local residents and activists at the latter two sites. We are immensely grateful to our guide, George Alexander, author of the Dragonpipe Diary, where you can find more investigative work on the pipeline and local campaigns to stop or regulate the pipeline.
For information from Sunoco on the pipeline, visit their website.
A new film Half-Mile, Upwind, On Foot, about resistance to the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline (that we toured last year) and the Mariner East 2 pipeline, will be released soon.